Weekly Reflection

Podcast Reflection

This week I reviewed the NPR Books podcast from August 18, 2011.  In this episode NPR highlights Young Adult Literature that adults have been drawn to for their literary qualities.  Titles include Flip by Martin Bedford, Delirium by Lauran Oliver, Trapped by Michael Northrup and Karma by Cathy Ostlere.  The podcast also included an interview with author Terry Pratchett.  The interview focused on his advocacy for the legalization of assisted suicide as he suffers from the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.  The podcast closes with a review of two novels.  The first, The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson is the story of a family of four.  The parents are involved in Performance Art and have used their children for years as part of their work.  The story takes place as the grown children have returned to their parent’s house after escaping their drama filled childhood.  The eccentric behavior continues when the family comes back together.  Thick as Thieves by Peter Spiegelman is a crime fiction novel by an author that once worked on Wall Street.  The author cited his experience in the financial world as helpful in his research while he was preparing to write.  The NPR Books podcast is a great way to listen to interviews with authors and hear reviews of new titles.

“New Teen Novels, Terry Pratchett, Vampires, Werewolves and more.” Aug. 18, 2011. Podcast. “NPR: Books Podcast.” accessed Aug. 24, 2011.

Blog Reflections

From Blue Skunk Blog April 2010, Doug Johnson posted a list of “Dangerous Statements for Librarians to Make”.  On this list of more than a dozen statements, Johnson warns librarians against making statements that both endanger their jobs and damage their relationships with teachers and students.  I had a hard time believing that anyone would say things like: “computers and the Internet are the bane of reading and rational thought. I refuse to learn about them”, or “my expertise in children’s/young adult literature makes me indispensable to my school”.  However, there may be librarians out there that have a difficult time embracing new technology or are having difficulty with the changing role of the library in schools.  Sadly, these librarians are missing the opportunity to be a valuable resource to the students and teachers in their school.  http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2010/4/21/dangerous-statements-for-librarians-to-make.html

From the AASL on August 22, 2011, Connie Coyle (educator and librarian) writes about the censorship of the internet in schools for Banned Web sites Awareness Day.  Connie makes some very good arguments supporting the idea of education children rather than simply restricting their access.  If we give students the right knowledge, they can navigate the material on the Internet.  In many instances, kids are able to maneuver around the filters set up by districts anyway to access the information they are looking for.  Connie suggests that, “instead of banning and filtering, perhaps it would be better to partner with children.”  She asserts that while homeschooling her own children, she teaches them the lessons of digital citizenship.  Since our students are growing up in the age of endless media and information we should teach them to make informed decisions about the materials they find so that they can be prepared to do it on their own.  http://www.aasl.ala.org/aaslblog/?p=1684

From Shelf Consumed June 20011, Leigh Ann Jones gives some tips for increasing the opportunities for collaboration between students in the library.  It is clear that interpersonal communication and the ability to work with a team are a valuable part of being a good employee in many career fields, so as educators we should give students the opportunities to learn these skills.  Some of the suggestions that she makes include: arranging furniture so that small groups can work together and allowing for “productive” noise in the library.  To read the full post, follow this link. http://www.shelfconsumed.com/2011/06/is-your-library-conducive-for.html.

LM Net Reflections

From BettyTX (8/26/2011)  Betty asks, “is the personal library doomed”?   I have found myself thinking about this question a lot lately with so many of us turning to e-readers.  I am one of those people who is resisting the change because I like to feel the book in my hand and hold my place with a book mark.  I like to see the book lying around to remind me that it is waiting for me to have some free time.  I also enjoy looking at other people’s bookshelves when I visit their homes because it says so much about them and it is always great for conversation.  It will be sad to watch book stores close and books disappear from personal libraries.

From Vicki Nelson (8/25/2011)  Insult to Injury.  Vicki posts about budget cuts in her district and that certified librarians are being asked to train clerks to run elementary libraries without certification.  Sadly Vicki is experiencing what much of the country is facing in today’s economic crisis.  Libraries in districts across the country have to cut back and do more with less.  It really shows the dedication and heart of today’s educators to continue providing the same high level of instruction with fewer resources and less time.  Our business is student learning and we cannot lose sight of our goals.

From Pamela Thompson (8/19/2011)  Movie Making for Kids.  This LM_Net post provides a link to a great Web site called Zimmer Twins for making short movies.  This is most appropriate for upper elementary, middle or early high school.  The site looks very easy to navigate and could be a great way for students to learn more about a topic by creating a movie from scratch.  By engaging students in a creative activity, they can make connections to their curriculum that last. 

Reflection Question:  In what way do schools still need brick-and-mortar libraries and librarians to run them?

In response to this question, reader Kelly Bryant says, “I firmly believe that the library is the hub of the school. It is the place where individuals, small and large groups can come and get support, help and instruction. This instruction certainly happens in structured scheduled times, but it also happens when students come in on their own”  (Brichacek).  

Schools most certainly still need brick-and-mortar libraries and trained librarians to run them.  The argument has been made that students can access databases, information and some technology from their computers at home, so why continue funding school libraries?  The reasons are plentiful.  To begin, school libraries are not just a place for students to check out a book or hop onto a computer, they are collaborative learning environments that are an extension of their classrooms.  According to Blanche Wools in The School Library Media Manager, the school library is the “information center of the school” (11).  Students cannot be expected to create these learning experiences on their own.  They need the proper environment along with the guidance from certified professionals.

Not only is the school library responsible for making materials available for students, but it is also a place for instruction, collaboration, studying, learning new technology, and developing critical thinking skills.  An important part of what the school librarian does is to teach students information literacy.  “The mission of the school library media program is to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information” (AASL 8).  It is essential to help students understand how to evaluate the vast amounts of information that students have access to daily. 

Another reason to protect school libraries is so they can provide access to students who otherwise would not have it.  These students rely on the school library to provide the opportunity to use not only print material, but also the technology that will keep them in step with their classmates.  Without the school library, these students would struggle to keep up.  According to the Standards for the 21st Century Learner, core belief number nine states that “school libraries are essential to the development of learning skills” (13).  Without libraries many students would be without the resources needed to develop these skills.

Librarians all over the nation are updating their library programs to keep up with the changing world.  The Ottawa Citizen highlights librarian Janice O’Neill at St. Mark Catholic High School who is working to change the culture of her library so that students can learn the 21st century skills they need.  She recognizes the need to increase technology and help students navigate information.  She now provides access to technology like e-readers and smart phones with the guidance of a librarian. 

Sadly, many librarians across the country are also desperately trying to defend their programs.  A recent post on Blue Skunk Blog indicates that librarians are constantly worried about job preservation.  Since people are starting to see the resources in the library as available from anywhere, librarians are looking at ways to engage in self promotion, find advocates in students and staff, and ensure an alliance with the principal.  These practices are necessary to highlight the value of library programs.  Without advocates who fight for their school libraries, they may not get the attention and funding they deserve.

Johnson, Doug. “What I Wish I’d Known as a New Librarian – A Meme?” Blue Skunk Blog. 10 Sept. 2010. Web. 10 Sept. 2010. <http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2010/9/10/what-i-wish-id-known-as-a-new-librarian-a-meme.html>.

Brichacek, Andra. “READERS RESPOND: Do Schools Still Need Brick-and-mortar Libraries?” ISTE Community Ning 17 Aug. 2009. Web. 27 May 2011. <http://www.iste-community.org/group/landl/forum/topics/readers-respond-do-schools>.

Person, Matthew. “High School Libraries Enter the 21st Century.” Ottawa Citizen 15 May 2011. Web. 27 May 2011. <http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/High+school+libraries+enter+21st+century/4786009/story.html>

American Association of School Librarians. Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs.Chicago:ALA, 2009. Print

Woolls, Blanche. The School Library Media Manager.Westport: Libraries Unlimited, 2008. Print.

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5 Responses to Weekly Reflection

  1. Jennifer — Word Press always has such a nice clean design. How did you decide on this as your blogging platform?

    As I mentioned on another blog, I haven’t heard this NPR podcast yet, although it is one of my favorites. I’m particularly looking forward to the interview with Pratchett as I’ve never read any of his works yet.

    I’m glad you picked up on the AASL blog. We have not come to grips with how to handle filtering yet. We are going to have to do more than try and put a muzzle on it and librarians I hope are leading the discussion. Digital citizenship should be in every school’s curricula.

    As we talked about on Skype, I see the whole personal library thing differently. I can see my personal library better and more comprehensively than ever because all I have to do is log into my Audible account and see every book I’ve listened to since 2004. Of course when you come to my house, I would have to whip out my iPod to show it to you!

    Great job of integrating the readings into the discussion question.

  2. colemanlsw says:

    Word Press has all kinds of great templates. I liked this one because it kind of reminded me of the library with the ink and paper. I also have a wordpress site for my social studies classes if you want to check it out. http://www.colemansclass.com

  3. Floyd Pentlin says:

    This is so COOL! Is the banner a Flash that is built into this template? I think this is such a great idea. How did you decide on a blog for this purpose rather than a wiki?

  4. colemanlsw says:

    I wish the banner was built in but it isn’t. My husband, who has a small Web design side business, helped me with the pictures. The only problem is that I can’t change templates because the pictures won’t fit. But, I like it just the way it is for now. Though the district is really pushing for Blackboard, so I’m not sure how long I will be able to keep it.

    When I decided to do the site I had worked a little bit with wikis (mostly for discussions) in my classroom but I didn’t know what all the capabilities were. A wiki would have been a good choice too looking back on it.

  5. Floyd Pentlin says:

    Aha — well, it’s great to have someone who can help you “tart” up your banner. It is really striking.

    I get a lot of grief for not using Bb as much as the college wants me to, but my main argument is that I hope my classes serve as a reference for my students when they need information that I’ve covered in a class and they can still get to it. Even though I modify the class every semester, the wiki URL stays the same. It if was all behind Bb my students would lose access after the class was over.

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